Category Archives: counting gifts

2015

design

Another year has come to a close.  In closing this chapter, the reflections of this past year are full of many blessings.  Blessings from wonderous new beginnings, new joys in the journey, steps toward dreams coming to fruition . . .  all of which draw us closer to God.  And this year has also been marked with disappointments, hurts, confusions, rejections . . .  these too have been blessings which draw us closer to God.  I put these high moments and these low moments in the vault of past Grace.  Knowing that each of these events are part of His plan to grow me, to teach me, to use me.

So as this new year begins today, as this next chapter opens up clean before me, I want to come with a teachable spirit.  I look forward to the future with faith and confidence that future Grace goes before me.  

My prayer for this new year is to not walk clinging to old ways, but to walk each day seeking His face with an open mind and an open heart.

Lord, I need You!! Renew my mind, continue to change my life. By testing, give me discernment what is good and acceptable and perfect…Give me Your will. 

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2


jigsaw puzzles

jigsaw_puzzle

When puzzle pieces go missing. I want to understand. I want to see how all these pieces can be put back together.

But the real wisdom is not the ability to find how all the puzzle gets back together.  Real wisdom is trusting God, even when life doesn’t make sense.~Joni Earekson Tada

One of my favorite things growing up was working jigsaw puzzles.  The more pieces, the better.   I remember taking my saved up allowance money, going to one of the neighborhood stores that sold toys, and buying the puzzle box filled with hundreds, yes even a thousand pieces.   Oh, I could hardly wait to get home so we could open up the box and dump out all the pieces.  When it was puzzle time, Mom would set up a card table in the corner of the den, so Dad and I could spend hours at a time, working the puzzle.

At first, I would want to just start trying pieces to see if they would match.  But Dad would take his time, carefully examining the pieces for each of the matches.   Sometimes the process was slow and tedious and then other times, the pace would change and the pieces would fall into place.  In learning how to work these puzzles, I relied so many times on my dad’s wisdom to guide me through the process of putting the pieces back together.

He would often say, Our lives are often times like this jigsaw puzzle.  We have circumstances and situations that break us apart.  And we have to trust God to help us put the pieces back together.  We can’t do it on our own.” 

When I ran across the words of Joni Earekson Tada, my mind went back to the special times spent working on those jigsaw puzzles and the spiritual life lessons I took away from the hundreds, or thousands pieces jigsaw puzzles.  And then it went to the times my life has seemed like a jigsaw puzzle.

Many times have I cried out, “I just want all the pieces to go back together. I just want to put it all back together.”  

The problem was one little, tiny word . .  . I” . . . ” I want . . .” 

My life is like those jigsaw puzzles, I have to let go of all the loose puzzle pieces.

Just like as a young girl when I looked to my earthly dad to guide me, to share his wisdom, I have to turn to my Abba Father, my Creator, for His wisdom to help me put the pieces back together.

 In His way, in His time.  It’s not up to me to sort through all the broken apart pieces and tediously put pieces back together.  I can not do it on my own.

I must trust in His Wisdom.  He puts back the pieces – in ways, I couldn’t even see! 

Trusting Him, even when life doesn’t make sense.


meet me in the timelessness

BJG_0259

 Life has different stages of waiting.

There is that gnawing demand on the mind as we wait.

It seems like so much of time we are sitting in a waiting room – that place where I tend to become frustrated with inefficiency and inaction.  With myself, with others.  And yes, at times . . .  even God.

Some of the times of waiting are in anticipation of something good happening – the birth of a new little baby.  The excitement of looking towards starting a new chapter in life.

Some times it is that vast area of waiting for God’s timing in a specific situation or circumstance in my life, the lives of my family, of my friends.

Then there is the  waiting room where I kneel praying for the Prodigal.  It’s often a very lonely place where well-meaning people seem to slip in and out of as time wears on.  It is a seemingly ending vastness of time ticking away – time slipping away.

And yet another sweet reminder comes that God meets me in the timelessness . . . 

and in that time of waiting, He continues to bless me with strength, and joy, and power.

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.
—Micah 7:7

 

Wait patiently with Me while I bless you. Don’t rush into My Presence with time-consciousness gnawing at your mind. I dwell in timelessness: I am, I was, I will always be. For you, time is a protection; you’re a frail creature who can handle only twenty-four-hour segments of life. Time can also be a tyrant, ticking away relentlessly in your mind. Learn to master time, or it will be your master.

Though you are a time-bound creature, seek to meet Me in timelessness. As you focus on My Presence, the demands of time and tasks will diminish. I will bless you and keep you, making My Face shine upon you graciously, giving you Peace.
(from Jesus Calling)

 


offering my thirst

 

photo 2

Reading this morning . . . something struck a chord.  Once again counting the gifts, the lessons that are given to us in the every day, ordinary.  Something as simple as needing water.

God is a mountain spring, not a watering trough. (Desiring God)

There’s been a lot of work going on down at the ranch these last few months.   Poles have been set, lines have been strung, trenches were dug and wire was laid – we’ve got power all the way down to the front of the property now.  Power to help us sustain and maintain.

Next came another crew with their big trucks and time to drill a well. We’ve been anticipating having our own fresh water at hand.  For the last few years, we’ve been lugging in water in everything from coolers to cases of bottled water.  Finally the big day came and up went the drilling rig and the down went the drill bit, deep into the earth.  By that afternoon, we had water!  Fresh, cold water streaming out to meet our watering needs.  No more lugging in water from the outside – all we’ve got to do is bend down and drink until our thirst is quenched.  Water. Whenever we need it, whenever we want it.  

Another reason we were excited to have running water at hand is now it was going to be much easier to make water available for some of the wildlife that runs through our woods.  Off to Tractor Supply to buy a watering trough and fill it to over-flowing with water.  Looking at the tracks that are often left around the trough, the watering trough is serving its purpose.  But one of the downsides of the troughs and the bird baths, they have to be maintained by man.  After awhile, we’ve got to empty out the standing water that is no longer fresh; it’s become stagnant.  So we haul the hoses and bring in more fresh water.

And after spending some time in the great outdoors, there is nothing like bending down and drinking from the well of fresh water.

God is a mountain spring, not a watering trough. A mountain spring is self-replenishing. It constantly overflows and supplies others. But a watering trough needs to be filled with a pump or bucket brigade. 

If you want to glorify the worth of a watering trough you work hard to keep it full and useful. But if you want to glorify the worth of a spring you do it by getting down on your hands and knees and drinking to your heart’s satisfaction, until you have the refreshment and strength to go back down in the valley and tell people what you’ve found. 

My hope hangs on this biblical truth: that God is the kind of God who will be pleased with the one thing I have to offer — my thirst. That is why the sovereign freedom and self-sufficiency of God are so precious to me: they are the foundation of my hope that God is delighted not by the resourcefulness of bucket brigades, but by the bending down of broken sinners to drink at the fountain of grace.                                                                                                                (from Desiring God)

I offer my thirst to the only place where it can be truly quenched – at the fountain of Grace and the stream of Living Water.

IMG_0435


all things new

photo

Behold I am making all things new.  ~ Revelation 21:5

On the hunt for signs of new life.  Spring has been teasing us for the last several weeks here after an unusually cold and pretty dreary winter in Texas.  The days of biting cold, icy roads, and winter storm warnings (school closures!) are surely behind us!  Now the signs of His breathing new life into the deadness of nature are showing all around us.  The anticipation of what God is going to do brings a fresh hope.

The little green leaves of the bluebonnets poking through the dirt . . .  bring hope.

The lone clump of Indian paintbrush . . . brings hope.

The mother bluebirds building their nests in the houses lining our fence  . . . bring hope.

The sounds of a hosts of different birds awakening the woods . . . bring hope.  

The massive old trees budding out with tiny spurts of green  . . . bring hope.  

The freshness in the air as I walk outside . . . brings hope.

All signs of spring!  How I love spring because it’s the season that wipes away all the dead, the dreariness and brings the promise of new life.  But you know it’s not just the in trees, the flowers, the birds that new life is promised.  His promise is for us!  He makes us new.

So in looking around the promise of new life all around me today, I am reminded that there was a time in my life I too was dead, dead like much like things in nature in winter.  But He made me a new creation!!

It’s not just a seasonal event that happens.  God is constantly at work in my life.  He is continuously working the soil of my heart through His Spirit.  Even when it’s hard to see from my human perspective, I know He is at work even in the smallest details of life.

I know I can trust HimSo I cling to His promise, anticipating with fresh hope the day when all things are made new.

photo


going to be ok

12269817123_f08eb04db6

Life is definitely different than what I thought it was going to be . . . after all,I thought I had a plan.
But it’s okay!

Much of my life I have found that on my journey’s path, going from point A to point B usually takes me via point K or point X or point R. . .

I’m finally getting the picture . . . God isn’t interested in the efficiency of my path.  He’s interested in my growth, in my learning to trust Him, in my leaning into Him . . .  He desires an intimate relationship with me.

His Promises have no expiration date.  It’s me that puts due dates on what God has a due season for . . . His appointed time.

Life is typically different from what I think it should’ve, could’ve would’ve been . . .
I know that He is writing my story and He has bought my happily ever after. 
I know how this story ends  . . .

and it is All going to be okay . . .

In fact, it is going to be way better than okay!!


never alone

Wide as the Sky.001

A few nights ago my sweet man was working on some video stuff and downloading music.  When I heard this new song, Wide as the Sky, by Matt Redman, my memory took me back a number of years ago . . . to a time that I had buried deep in my heart.  

. . . There was something holding me back from opening up myself to worship . . .  I mean . . .  Real Worship.

I’ve always loved singing [in and out of church], but I would watch vicariously as others would open themselves up to unashamed real worship.  And then one day, it happened.  It was a rare occurrence, the three of us – my middle son, my daughter and me – sitting all together at the late worship service.  Admittedly, I was in the throes of walking through a dark season in my life.

Life was falling apart.

As the 11:11 worship band was playing [sadly I can’t remember what the song was], my eyes were fixed straight ahead.  But to each side of me, I saw the hands of a son and daughter raising up. It was in that moment, I no longer felt the constraints holding me back.

Life was falling apart.  And my hands were reaching up, so my heart could begin to open up.

I did not know where this battle in the dark season would take me.  As alone as I may have felt, I knew I was not walking it alone.

Looking back over the last 10 plus years since that day, I know . .  . Never once did I walk alone.

CLICK TO LISTEN:  NEVER ONCE by Matt Redman


even in the dark

 

john 1_5.001

It never ceases to amaze me . . . when I’m on the hunt for something to share with someone . . . The Word speaks to me.  Sometimes it’s a tug on my heart.  Or maybe a tap on my shoulder or a pull on my arm.  And then there are the times when it hits me smack in the head.  That’s exactly what happened the other day when I read Ann Voskamp’s post, How to Get Through the Dark Places.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that can defeat me. I can say, “I get it.” N.O.T.H.I.N.G.
And there is no place His light won’t go to find you, to save you, to hold you.

The darkness doesn’t understand the light, doesn’t comprehend the light, doesn’t get the light, doesn’t overcome the light, doesn’t master the light.

Darkness doesn’t have anything on light, on hope, on faith.

The darkness that sucks at the prodigal kid doesn’t have anything on the light of his mother’s prayers.

The black of pornography that threatens at the edges doesn’t master the blazing light of Jesus at the center.

The pit of depression that plunges deep doesn’t go deeper than the love of your Jesus and there is no place His light won’t go to find you, to save you, to hold you.

That low-lying storm cloud that hangs over you can’t master the light of Christ that raises you.

Darkness can’t drive out darkness. Only light can do that.

Only words of Light can drive out worlds of dark.
Only deeds of Light can drive out depths of dark.
Only lives of Light can drive out lies of dark.

Darkness can never travel as fast as Light. No matter how bad things get, no matter how black the dark seeps in, no matter the depths of the night — the dark can never travel as fast as Light. The Light is always there first, waiting to shatter the dark.

You can always hold His Word like a ball of light right there your hand, right up there next to your warming heart.

You can always count on it: Jesus is bendable Light, warmth around every unexpected corner.

So press on.  Keep running the race – even in the dark.


pausing to renew my mind

checking out the spectacular view

Abiding . . . taking time to be still and to renew my mind.

Pausing on this journey to humbly rest on the mountaintop

Reflecting back on the Grace received.

Taking time to hold on to the Grace He sustains me with today.

Looking expectantly to the future Grace and Mercy He offers me.

 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16


flowers of Peace

photo from AnnVoskamp

photo from AnnVoskamp

Let Me infuse My Peace into your innermost being. As you sit quietly in the Light of My Presence, you can sense Peace growing within you. This is not something that you accomplish through self-discipline and willpower; it is opening yourself to receive My blessing.

In this age of independence, people find it hard to acknowledge their neediness. However, I have taken you along a path that has highlighted your need for Me: placing you in situations where your strengths were irrelevant and your weaknesses were glaringly evident. Through the aridity of those desert marches, I have drawn you closer and closer to Myself. You have discovered flowers of Peace blossoming in the most desolate places.You have learned to thank Me for hard times and difficult journeys, trusting that through them I accomplish My best work. You have realized that needing Me is the key to knowing Me intimately, which is the gift above all gifts.

~Jesus Calling

Even as a little girl, I’ve had a penchant for flowers, all kinds of flowers.  From little flowers growing wild, clusters of Ligustrum flowers attracting the honey bees, roses growing in my mother’s garden, verbenas used for Barbie doll bouquets, I loved the beauty of flowers.  From the flowering weeds collected by the hand of my young baseball player given to Mom in the stands,  to the broken off magnolia bloom brought in by the toothless grin of the little blonde-headed daughter, and the Mason jar full of Texas bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush gathered by the oldest on a walk with Granddaddy, to the store-bought bouquets and gifted flowers randomly given by teenagers – all are precious memories, gifts given from the hearts.  In looking back, I now see these as little joys divinely given to me in a desert season of life.

So when reading today’s devotion from Jesus Calling, I am deeply reminded of how His Peace has infused my life.  I’m reminded of how when I am weak, He is strong.  When life seemed bleak and lonely, I have never been alone. Even in times of financial despair, on the brink of losing everything, He never let me fall.  The enemy continually whispered the lies of there is no hope, there is no way out. Even though the thread was mighty thin, He always provided just enough in the hard times.

 I am so very thankful for these times of difficulty, as I learn to lean in and trust.  I’ve learned to not run away and hide in the desert, but to look for Him in the most desolate places.

In times of desolation, He has given me flowers of Peace.

And today, flowers – whether randomly given by my sweet man or simply seen along my way – are my way of counting gifts of Joy and Peace and Thanksgiving!

Reminders that He is the gift of all gifts.

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters will never fail.  
Isaiah 58:11


%d bloggers like this: